Claim: Unintentional 'Technical Problems' Forced Ukrainian News Channels To Be Replaced By Russian Ones In Crimea
When it was first reported that the terrestrial signals of Ukrainian-based television stations had been blocked and replaced by Russian stations in Simferopol, the de-facto Crimean government's deputy premier said the problem was purely a technical one.
"We are aware of the problem,"
said the official, Olga Kovitidi, according to Interfax. "To find out why takes time. We will establish what is happening and the broadcasts will be restored."
But Luke Springer, RFE/RL's director of technology, says that although a technical problem could account for an inadvertent switching error, for the problem to persist for this length of time "requires human intervention or worse, lack of human intervention."
Our in-house technology expert isn't the only one who disagrees with Kovitidi.
Russia-backed Crimean Information Minister Dmitry Polonsky admitted on March 9 that the channels had been blocked. He said that because the region now considers itself a part of Russia, Ukrainian TV channels will have to reapply for new contracts.
He also cited "moral reasons,"
according to ITAR-TASS.
"All Ukrainian TV channels are rigidly censored by the 'illegitimate' authorities in Kyiv in violations of fundamental principles," he said.
And then there's this.
The Russian channels that replaced the Ukrainian ones, including Rossiya 24, NTV and Perviy Kanal, have been criticized by pro-Ukrainian activists for toeing a fiercely anti-Kyiv line.
The de-facto authorities have also used more overt methods of cracking down on independent journalists.
Ukrainian station 1+1 said through a press release on March 6 that it had been ordered by pro-Russian Crimean authorities to terminate its broadcasts and some Ukrainian journalists have been prevented from entering the Crimean peninsula.
TeleKritikia, a Ukrainian NGO, has counted 61 cases of "violations of the right to freedom of speech, obstruction of journalistic activity and attacks on the media
" in Crimea since mid-February. And The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Russia is a member, has slammed "extreme censorship" and attacks on journalists in Crimea.
-- Glenn Kates